Northwest tribes seek reburial of ancestor known as Ancient One

The remains of the Kennewick Man were found at this site along the Columbia River in Washington. The land used to belong the Umatilla Tribes until it was ceded by treaty. Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Five Pacific Northwest tribes are calling on Congress to pass S.1979, the Bring the Ancient One Home Act.

The bill allows the Colville Tribes, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Umatilla Tribes, the Yakama Nation and the Wanapum Tribe to rebury the Ancient One, otherwise known as Kennewick Man. The tribes have always claimed the 9,000-year-old man as an ancestor and DNA tests proved he was indeed Native American and that his Native relatives live in Washington today.

S.1979 requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to transfer the remains to the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation. That agency would then return the Ancient One to the tribes for reburial.

Separately, the Army Corps has reaffirmed that the Kennewick Man is Native American as defined by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The text of S.1979 is also included in S.2848, the Water Resources Development Act. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has approved S.2848 and it's ready for consideration on the Senate floor.

The Ancient One was found along the Columbia River in 1996 on land that used to be a part of the Umatilla Reservation before it was ceded by treaty.

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Tribes lobby for return of the Ancient One (My Columbia Basin 6/8)

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